The future of precision farming has begun: Radar-assisted remote surveillance makes it possible for the first time to observe, analyse and visualise the biomass on the field effectively and reliably. The farmer can monitor the development of his crops at any time regardless of the weather or time of day. CLAAS Agrosystems and Allianz Re are presenting this new technology jointly at the Agritechnica 2011 in Hanover to enable farmers to exploit its potential effectively and to develop user-friendly products.
This innovative technology supplies farmers with detailed information in a quality hitherto unknown. Alongside accurate mapping of field boundaries and soil characteristics, the growth of biomass can also be precisely recorded. In this way long-term observations of the crops on specific sites can be carried out over the entire harvest year. Other practical benefits apart from monitoring crop development include a measurement of crops lost at the end of winter. "The radar pictures are a great help in recognising damage to crops early on and enable us to react quicker", says Karl-Heinz Krudewig, head of the product management department at CLAAS Agrosystems.
The site-specific observations and analyses are based on satellite pictures from the European Space Agency ESA. These radar pictures with a resolution of 20 x 20 metres provide much more information than purely optical photographs. What's more, the technology is entirely independent of weather and light conditions. Even in heavy cloud, poor visibility and at night, radar-based remote surveillance delivers precise and reliable pictures. The radar pictures are evaluated and the results visualised using software developed specially by Allianz Re in cooperation with the Swiss company Sarmap SA.
This software was originally designed by Allianz Re in order to assess risks and calculate damage for the purposes of insuring harvests. "During talks with CLAAS Agrosystems it quickly became clear that interesting additional functions for precision farming could be developed out of this key technology", emphasised Thomas Heintz, agricultural scientist and head of the Agriculture Division at Allianz Re. This opinion was confirmed by Karl-Heinz Krudewig of CLAAS Agrosystems: "This technology is of great interest to us. Our experience and competence in precision farming provides an interface enabling us to make this radar-based remote surveillance usable for farmers and to optimise agricultural process chains further." According to the two companies, the first prototypes of this new product line for insurance and precision farming purposes are already in the test phase.